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FERRARA v. CIBA-GEIGY CORP.

August 7, 1981

Wiga Elizabeth FERRARA, Plaintiff,
v.
CIBA-GEIGY CORPORATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STEWART

MEMORANDUM DECISION

 STEWART, District Judge.

 Plaintiff Wiga Elizabeth Ferrara brought this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1976) seeking to recover back pay and damages incurred as a result of alleged discriminatory treatment by her former employer, Ciba-Geigy Corporation, and to be reinstated into an appropriate position. A three day non-jury trial was held. This opinion constitutes our findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 The Facts

 Plaintiff graduated from high school and has since taken several business courses. Prior to her employment at Ciba-Geigy, plaintiff worked in a number of clerical positions and assisted in the production department at her last place of employment. Plaintiff's Ex. 7.

 Plaintiff commenced her employment at Ciba-Geigy on March 30, 1970 as an accounting clerk at Grade Level 5. She described her duties to consist primarily of reconciling bank accounts and handling claim registers, journal vouchers, input transfer of records to records retention and related correspondence. Tr. at 5. During her employment at Ciba-Geigy, plaintiff received salary increases of 7.69% in December 1970, 7.14% in January 1972, a promotional increase of 12% in July 1972, an increase of 5.95% in December 1972, a 6.74% increase in 1973, an 8.94% increase in December 1974, and a 7.25% increase in December 1975.

 Plaintiff communicated her dissatisfaction with Ciba-Geigy's general approach to affirmative action and with her job classification and lack of advancement to her employer on January 24, 1975 in a letter sent to the Director of Personnel, Frank Sorgie, through the Open-Up Program. *fn1" Plaintiff's Ex. 88. After reviewing the correspondence between plaintiff and Mr. Sorgie, Charles E. Ziegler, a corporate vice president, wrote to plaintiff and suggested a meeting to discuss possible ways of addressing her dissatisfaction. Plaintiff's Ex. 96. This meeting occurred on May 14, 1975. Ziegler told Mrs. Ferrara then that there was little he could do directly, but he subsequently arranged a meeting with Joseph Keenan, the corporate controller. Tr. at 100. Plaintiff did meet with Keenan, who was very cordial and agreed to look at the job contents of several positions to make them available for women without college degrees. Tr. at 101. Plaintiff expressed her concern about employment discrimination primarily in terms of corporate policy, rather than her individual situation. See Plaintiff's Ex. 99.

 Plaintiff subsequently requested a meeting with C. J. Benjamin, the manager of accounting, because in December 1975 she received a 7.25% salary increase rather than a promotion. She expressed the view then, as well as at trial, that she was qualified to hold the position of a junior accountant, grade 9. Plaintiff recalled Benjamin to have stated that she would have to diversify her job experience to obtain a promotion and that personnel would have to approve any upgrading. Tr. at 123.

 Plaintiff claims that she then took on responsibility for the deposit account and marketable securities to satisfy the requirements for upgrading her position. Keenan's testimony, substantiated by Seltzer and Hayden and not disputed in substance, established that these additional duties involved record keeping and reconciling of additional areas, but no additional knowledge or judgment requiring skills of a junior accountant. Tr. at 323-325. Plaintiff also was offered the responsibility of supervising three people, but turned down the offer because, as she contends, these particular workers were not motivated. Tr. at 244.

 During the relevant period, plaintiff applied for four positions within Ciba-Geigy. Tr. at 131, 469. She was found to be qualified for two of those four positions, but was not offered either of those positions.

 Plaintiff also testified that during the relevant period she sought a copy of her job description, which she claimed to be an incomplete and inaccurate representation of her duties. The record shows that she did not actually request a copy of her job description until June 23, 1976, eight weeks prior to her resignation. Plaintiff's Ex. 37. She claims that she did not receive a copy of her job description, but was told that the company was in the process of establishing new job descriptions. Tr. at 150. Plaintiff testified that she learned that some of her co-workers received their new job descriptions in July. Tr. at 162. Upon learning of this, plaintiff submitted her letter of resignation on August 9, 1976. See Plaintiff's Ex. 144. She testified that she resigned "in despair", that she had been "humiliated enough." Tr. at 162, 165, 227. After Benjamin learned of her resignation, Benjamin called her in and suggested that she reconsider. Dianne Hayden, the personnel representative, informed plaintiff of the benefits she would give up by resigning from her position. Tr. at 495. Plaintiff adhered to her decision to resign.

 After plaintiff left Ciba-Geigy, she attempted unsuccessfully to obtain work which satisfied her income and career advancement requirements. Upon learning that she was ineligible for unemployment compensation because she resigned from her position, plaintiff contacted Ziegler to obtain his assistance. Tr. at 42-43. Ziegler offered to and did forward her resume to the vice-president of a Westchester bank.

 Plaintiff also testified that after she submitted her letter of resignation, she met with Mr. Damrau, her supervisor. Plaintiff stated that, in response to her inquiry as to why she was unfairly persecuted, Damrau remarked "you have been seeing Dr. Ziegler so ...


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